Demonstration against the police harassment of non-fasters, May 27, Tunis

On a weekday morning just about halfway through the month of Ramadan, the poster-plastered doors of L’Etoile du Nord are closed. But the café is indeed open for business, and like a number of food and drink establishments in capital, is a haven for non-fasters. These days, L’Etoile’s regulars, largely university students and artists, are joined by a broader-than-usual gamut of customers. Among them, a couple of wizen-faced, grey-haired men sip their coffees in silence next to students hovering over pages of notes or staring into laptop screens as they put finishing touches on their end-of-year projects, or ample groups of friends sharing small tables and continually tapping the ashes off their cigarettes. In spite of the spacious room and its high ceilings, the café is a great deal smokier than usual. This world exists in isolation from the one outside, where the streets and pedestrians are baking in the heat of car exhaust and midday sun and public transport is over-capacity. The air inside metro cars is thick, and people seem hold their breath until arriving at their stop, muttering « God have mercy » every time the metro halts suddenly or stalls for oncoming traffic.